Taipei, Taiwan’s opposition Kuomintang (KMT) on Friday defended the veracity of a video it released this week that allegedly shows pigs at an American slaughterhouse convulsing after being given ractopamine, even though the animal rights group that provided the footage said it had no evidence that the controversial feed additive was used at the facility.
The video was posted by the KMT on its Facebook page on Tuesday with the aim of rallying support for a Nov. 22 protest against the government’s move to allow pork imports with specified levels of the leanness-enhancing drug from the beginning of next year.
The KMT highlighted the fact that ractopamine is banned in some 160 countries, including European Union member states and China, and accused the government of disregarding possible health risks and refusing to give the public a say in the matter.
On Thursday, however, a representative of Animal Outlook, the Washington, D.C.-based group that provided the footage, told CNA it had informed the KMT it had no evidence that ractopamine was being used at the facility.
In response to an email query, the group explained that the video “was shot in 2015 by one of Animal Outlook’s undercover investigators at Quality Pork Processors, a high-speed pig slaughterhouse in Austin, Minnesota.”
“We made it clear when we gave the Kuomintang Party permission to use this footage that we have no evidence of ractopamine use (at the facility) but that they were welcome to use the footage to illustrate the suffering of pigs subjected to high-speed slaughter,” the group wrote.
Citing the report, Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) on Friday called on the KMT to delete the “discredited” video and urged the public not to share it.
Going a step further, ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Chuang Jui-hsiung (莊瑞雄) argued that the KMT was potentially violating the law by spreading false information relating to food safety.
The KMT, meanwhile, stood by its claims, stating in a press release on Friday that it had independently verified that pigs at the Quality Pork Processors plant are given ractopamine.
It cited articles by Reuters and the Minnesota-based news outlet Progressive Farmer DTN, which show that China banned imports of meat from the plant because of its use of the drug.
Additionally, it noted, the Environment & Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST) has in the past used the same footage to document the side effects of ractopamine on pigs.
“While it would be scientifically impossible to prove that ractopamine caused a pig’s behavior at a given moment, we can be certain that ractopamine is used at this slaughterhouse and that the behavior of these pigs corresponds with scientific research (on the drug’s side effects),” EAST Vice President Chen Yu-min (陳玉敏) said of the footage, according to the statement.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) announced on Aug. 28 that Taiwan would lift its import ban on pork containing acceptable levels of ractopamine and on U.S. beef from cattle aged over 30 months.
The policy is widely viewed as an effort to satisfy U.S. conditions for beginning negotiations on a bilateral trade agreement, though the government has insisted that the imports will not pose a health risk.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel